Ford Motor Co. says sales of the new ’08 Ford Focus small car are surging, with February’s tally expected to trump like-2007.

Official monthly sales figures will be announced March 3.

Focus’ retail sales have been up year-over-year for the past three months, Ford says, noting that in November, the car’s first month on the market, sales rose 18% vs. like-2006. That tally was followed by a 9% increase in December and a 33% surge in January, Ford says.

Ford says its in-vehicle multi-media system, Sync, is a driving force behind Focus’ surge in sales, as the option is drawing younger buyers into the vehicle.

“Younger buyers are very interested in technology like Sync. In addition to strong sales, we’re seeing the average age of Focus customers coming down,” says Samuel De La Garza, Focus marketing manager.

According to a study conducted by J.D. Power and Associates, 32% of ’08 Focus buyers are 16 to 35 years of age. That’s up from 28% of ’07 Focus buyers.

“When you think about the significant small cars that have come into the market during the past few months, alone, a 4 percentage point jump is meaningful,” says George Pipas, U.S. sales analyst. “This increase suggests younger buyers are starting to believe it’s cool to buy a Ford.”

Ford says the “Millennial” generation, which it classifies as people born between 1980 and 1995, are helping drive the trend, noting more than 11,000 Millennials reach driving age every day.

Not only are Focus buyers getting younger, they’re also opting for more feature-laden vehicles, De La Garza says, noting nearly 40% of buyers opt for Sync.

Such devices are rising in popularity, a study by the Consumer Electronics Assn. shows. Consumers increasingly want information and entertainment devices to function inside vehicles. Approximately one-fourth of the driving-age population plans to purchase these types of products this year, the study says.

Ford also is introducing color-configurable interior ambient-lighting systems as a feature on many of its vehicles, including the Focus. The feature allows customers to change the light color inside the cupholders and in the front and rear foot wells.